Have you ever walked down an aisle at your grocery store, and totally been the victim of amazing advertising? I'm so guilty of this. I'll go to our local Trader Joe's (Trader Joe's Holla!) with my little grocery list, have full intentions of buying ONLY what's on that list, and then come out with like 398,467 things I didn't need- because they sounded so good on the packages and little signs.
Case in point- their darn Pumpkin Bar Baking Mix. I couldn't resist! Really! I blame it on their sign artist. It's their fault. The timing was just too perfect, on their part. Why would you make that particular end cap's drawings so awesome and those descriptions such sweet, sweet sounds to my ears, eyes, and tastebuds? Why would you also "just so happen" to be demo-ing those bars at your little tasting corner, for me to "have to try"? Why would you put 1,000 boxes of the stuff out in front of me, like some tower of irresistible deliciousness? Oh right...so I'd buy it. Touché friend. You win this round.
I had no intention of buying this box mix. Nor did I intend on buying their Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte Drink Mix, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread, or their Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. But I did. In one, ridiculous shopping trip. One in which I needed like, almonds, milk, eggs, and veggies....or something stupidly healthy.
The next night was our bible study, which couldn't have come at a better time! Hooray! I've got all this fattiness that I impulsively bought because I'm a sucker for good advertising! I know, I'll whip something up stat, and serve it to our friends! So I did. I had this vision the night before, of those lovely pumpkin bars...topped with this thick layer of chocolate peanut butter. I wanted those mini peanut butter cups to just melt and turn gooey...and like, drip down those darned pumpkin bars. I wanted them to stick to the backs of your teeth and the roof of your mouth in thick, autumn-flavor-filled delight. Gaaaaw, I couldn't wait. PLUS, come on- what would be easier than baking a box mix and topping with perfection in mini cup form. Open, mix, bake, open, dump, melt. The end.
EXTREMELY EASY CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER PUMPKIN BARS
Makes approximately 15 bars
- 1 (14.5 ounce) box of Pumpkin Bar Baking Mix (I used a Trader Joe's version)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and browned
- 1 (12 ounce) package mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups (I used a Trader Joe's version, again)
1. Preheat oven according to box's instructions. Get out an 8x8x2" baking dish and grease evenly with cooking spray. Line dish with parchment paper so that it covers the bottom and hangs over two sides about 2". This will make "handles" which will make lifting bars out of the pan super easy, once baked.
2. My box mix just called for melted butter. Why not kick the flavor up a notch and brown it? So, brown that glorious stick of butter. For a picture tutorial, click here. Basically:
- In a small saucepan, add your stick of butter. Over gentle heat, about medium- melt the butter.
- Once butter is all the way melted it will boil and froth- watch carefully, things will move quickly now. You can swirl the pan around a bit.
- Once the bubbles die down and leave only froth, you will start to smell a nutty scent! Almost there :)
- Swirl pan around again- you should see a light golden brown color and smell a very nutty scent. Once that happens cook another 5-10 seconds and remove pan from heat. Pour into a bowl to cool (and stop the cooking). You're looking for a gorgeous golden amber color!
3. Prepare pumpkin bars according to your box's instructions. For this particular box mix, I needed 2 large eggs and 1 stick of melted butter (which I browned). I also love this mix because there's little chocolate chips throughout the batter! Yum!
Throw pan into oven and bake, again according to your box's instructions.
4. As soon as your bars are done, remove from oven and sprinkle the top with your entire package of mini chocolate peanut butter cups! Feel free to move the cups around a bit as they melt, so that the entire surface is covered evenly. I chose to let the cups retain some shape, so I could show my friends what was on top. If you're not into that, just swirl melting cups around to your liking.
5. Allow bars to sit until cool to the touch, then gently lift out of pan with those parchment "handles" hanging from the sides. With a clean, sharp knife, cut bars into 15-16 squares and place on a platter to cool completely.
Enjoy slightly warm or at room temperature! Bars are best served the day of, but can be stored in an air tight container in fridge, for up to 24 hours.
Trader Joe's makes my life complete(ly delicious).
For printable recipe, click here.